The guide is relevant for companies that have to comply with the due diligence requirements laid down in the EU Timber Regulation to prevent the import and trade of illegally harvested timber, which entered into force in March 2013.

Updating of the FSC guide, replacing the original version of March 2013, was necessary because FSC has in the meantime completed a set of adaptations of its own rules to facilitate compliance with the EU requirements. The guide helps companies to determine which obligations they have toward the EU Timber Regulation and how working with FSC-certified materials helps compliance.

The EU does not recognize certificates from FSC and other private certification/verification schemes as automatic proof of legality, but such certificates can play a role in the due diligence system that importers and domestic timber producers have to apply. What role exactly is not crystal clear from the law and the emerging practice shows that authorities have different interpretations. The guide is to assist companies in identifying the precise role and reliability of FSC.

The author, John Hontelez, Chief Advocacy Officer of FSC, calls upon companies to share their experiences with FSC certificates and the EU Timber Regulation in relation to the upcoming review of the Regulation in 2015.